Senate Approves Postal Reform Bill

The Senate approved a bill Wednesday aimed at restructuring the broke (and broken) Post Office, clearing the way for a massive reduction in the agency's workforce.

Passed by a 62-37 vote, the bill refunds overpayments the USPS made to the federal retirement system. That will allow it to pay for buyouts for some 100,000 retirement-eligible employees.

The bill also allows the PO to negotiate with its unions about moving postal employees out of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan and into a separate insurance program, as well as ending Saturday mail delivery.

A number of amendments to the bill, however, weaken the agency's ability to close postal facilities. While that may allow lawmakers to avoid the wrath of their constituents, it significantly undercuts some of the proposed cost savings in the original bill.

This proposal looks especially weak when compared to a genuine solution, such as the amendment Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) unsuccessfully proposed. His measure would have allowed five-day-a-week delivery implemented immediately, and eliminated costly no-layoff provisions in its labor contracts. So now any hope for real postal reform  lies in a House-Senate negotiation. We won't hold our breath.

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Direct Mail Preferred by Consumers

According to a study by marketing firm Epsilon Targeting, direct mail continues to deliver as consumers' preferred means of receiving marketing messages.

The Consumer Channel Preference Study, released in late 2011, found:
  • Six out of 10 consumers in the United States say they "enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products."
  • Direct mail is preferred over email by all respondents - whether the mail is for financial, retail or professional services. This preference includes the 18-34 year old demographic.
  • Half of all respondents agree with the statement "I pay more attention to information I receive by postal mail than if it was received by email."
  • Six out of 10 people enjoy receiving direct mail sent to their homes promoting new products, while  43 percent like receiving new product emails from brands. Respondents could agree with both statements.
  • When it comes to direct mail, 31 percent prefer personalized mailings, while only 5 percent are okay with generically addressed mail (Like Every Door Direct Mail). This shows that "Current Occupant" does not carry the emotional pull of a personally addressed mailing.

Attitudes Toward Postal Mail and Email:
  • I enjoy checking my postal mail box - 60 percent
  • I receive too many emails in one day - 65 percent
  • I enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products - 59 percent
  • I enjoy getting email from brands about new products - 43 percent
  • I get a lot more emails that I do not open - 75 percent
What's the take-away on this study? Direct mail continues to be a preferred form of marketing among all age groups - including young adults - and deserves a spot in a customer-first marketing plan. 

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